Name: Vanessa Ryan
Hometown: I’ve lived in too many different places — and countries! — to choose just one.
Currently lives in: Providence
Occupation: Professor of English at Brown University
What’s your background?
I’ve been living in Providence for about 6 years, but I have been mostly in the area — in Cambridge, in Connecticut, and Massachusetts — since college. I also lived in Europe for a number of years, in London and in Germany.
Tell us about yourself.
I am direct, high-energy, pragmatic, un-squeamish, and have trouble getting up early in the morning. I was browsing craigslist for mid-century modern furniture before it was cool. No one would ever guess that I sometimes leave dishes in the sink. I make a mean Feuerzangenbowle (wine, rum, sugar, and fire!) and love caring for my summer container garden.
There’s no hiding that I’m the intellectual type: it’s all about books and ideas for me. And I’m devoted to teaching and to supporting a new generation of teachers through my work. My friends joke that I’m “Professa Vanessa,” but they say that in spite of my Ivy-league degrees I’m down-to-earth, approachable, and get along with all types.
I’m a loyal friend and a doting Auntie. I have an eye for aesthetics and love beautiful chairs, buildings, boats. You can find me mornings rowing on the Seekonk in a single shell out of the Narragansett Boat Club. I like to stay active: I just got back from snowshoeing in Vermont, and, in the summer, I’m happy to head out on the trails with trekking poles and a headlamp. On the weekends in Providence, I’m a regular at the farmer’s market — it’s amazing how vibrant our local agriculture and food scene is — and nothing beats a Thüringer Brat at Chez Pascal’s Wurst Kitchen on the East Side for lunch. And on Fridays, you can catch me drinking beer in the Ratskeller in Pawtucket.
What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
I used to be Australian — my grandad Bill grew up on a sheep “station” in the Outback. I’ve been researching the family history and it turns out convict blood runs pretty thick. I’m even descended from a nineteenth-century “murderess.” She killed a man in a crime of passion!
What will get your attention?
I like creative, curious, charismatic people. People who are passionate about something and who have a kind of intensity, intellectual or otherwise, tend to catch my attention.
What are you looking for in a potential mate?
A great sense of humor and someone who can tell a good story is always a plus for me. I admire people who give back: people who are committed to the environment, their community, their friends and family, or a charity or organization. I’m especially drawn to people who can step into diverse social circles and hold their own.
What’s your take on dating in Providence?
Providence is a great city, with a vibrant culture and arts scene, amazing food, great universities, and an active rowing community: what’s not to love? I don’t mind the single life — there are so many great people here — but with a bit of luck I’d love to have a family of my own someday.
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